Lake Norman & Mooresville

Retired teachers continue to educate children

In a time when budget cuts and layoffs seem to be the norm, there are bright stars that continue to shine. In this story, there are two that continue to make a difference.

Several years ago, the Lake Norman/Mooresville Newcomers Club decided to fund a literacy program, but was somewhat puzzled as to where to start. Two of the club members, who were long-time educators, Monica Salter and Gloria DeWitt, stepped in and designed a very successful early-literacy program that is now expanding into the third grade.

They were asked by fellow members of the club, Flo Hollands and Mary Wanzong, to develop a program to bring new children's literature into the classrooms of the Mooresville/Lake Norman area schools.

The club promotes the opportunity for women to become familiar with others in the community who have also relocated to the Mooresville/Lake Norman area. The club also provides an atmosphere of friendliness and goodwill, while making many social, charitable and civic opportunities available to its members.

One of its charitable projects is the early-literacy program established six years ago. Gloria DeWitt and Monica Salter were immediately interested and began brainstorming about what they would incorporate into the project. Entertaining age-appropriate literature, a writing response component and some whimsical props would make up each book-share visit. After introducing the concept to the Mooresville/LKN Area Newcomers Club, its membership voted to fund the program for a year. Lakeshore Elementary School's first-grade classes were selected to receive book donations and classroom visits from DeWitt and Salter. Carrying their "Mary Poppins" bags filled with their reading treasures, they began a program that has evolved to the present.

Today, club volunteers (mostly retired teachers) visit designated classrooms each month of the school year, and conduct a book-share of the literature purchased by the club. Volunteers, students and teachers look forward to the monthly visits.

The program has donated approximately 563 books worth more than $6,700 to 61 first- and second-grade classrooms at Lakeshore, South, Mount Mourne, Rocky River and Shepherd elementary schools.

DeWitt and Salter, who remain co-chairs of the program, have recommended expanding the initiative next year to include third-grade classes at Shepherd Elementary.

The club continues to be supportive of the early-literacy program and agrees that the targeted group should be students in grades one through three for the 2011-2012 school year. Through their dedication to childhood literacy, the club's members and volunteers have been able to spread their love of reading with early readers.

One of the goals of the Mooresville/LKN Area Newcomers Club is to undertake and promote charitable and humanitarian projects within the community. Clearly, its early-literacy program helps fulfill that mandate. It also gives its members great satisfaction in knowing that so many local children have benefited from these outstanding picture books chosen for their classroom libraries.